Psoriasis is an autoimmune, inflammatory and chronic skin condition with a considerable impact on the daily and social life of those who suffer from it. Around 125 million people worldwide are affected, while in Italy they suffer in 2 million patients. More than 10% of these have a moderate or severe form that cannot be treated only with topical treatments or conventional systemic therapies. A new biological drug, recently approved by the AIFA and now fully reimbursable by the National Health Service, makes it possible to treat these patients whose skin would otherwise never be completely free from injury. We talked about it with Professor Antonio Costanzo, Head of the Dermatology Unit at Humanitas in Milan.
Symptoms of psoriasis affect the social and working life
The most common form of psoriasis manifests itself with symptoms such as red patches, thickening and peeling of the affected areas with sometimes very intense itching.
It is therefore a disease that can affect the social relations and work activity: skin symptoms cause discomfort, shame and frustration, sometimes preventing even the most banal recreational activities. Returning to normal skin, on the other hand, can restore social life to patients. The new biological drug is a monoclonal antibody, the first and only biological treatment for psoriasis that targets the interleukin-17 receptor.
The mechanism of action and characteristics are different from other anti-cytokines whose evidence indicates a rapid and lasting response, as well as high levels of skin free from injury and improved quality of life. “The receptors – explains Antonio Costanzo, Head of the Dermatology Unit at Humanitas in Milan – are proteins placed on the surface of the cells, which indicate the incoming information. The message from the interleukin-17 receptor is that the skin is inflamed. The new biological drug interrupts the inflammation at the base of the disease, inhibiting many of the cells involved in the inflammatory processes, while the other drugs block the cytokines. Compared to the old drugs, the new biological treatment can block more inflammatory cytokines: IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-17A/F and IL-17E, therefore, have a more complete degree of inhibition than other drugs”.
The new treatment against psoriasis and its effects
The new drug has been tested on 4,373 people with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis and has been shown to reach the skin in all affected areas of the body. The direct consequence of the application of the new treatment approved by AIFA was therefore a very fast activity, the effects can be seen from the first injection, after less than a week. All this without compromising the functions of the immune system.
In 50% of the patients treated, the responses were faster than in the old treatments. At 2 weeks, 1 patient in 4 treated reached a skin almost completely free from lesions and 4 patients in 10, after 12 weeks of treatment, obtained a skin completely free from lesions. Twice as much as with other drugs. After 52 weeks of treatment, 51% of the patients managed to obtain a skin free from lesions, obtaining an effect that lasts up to 120 weeks, when more than half of the patients managed to keep their skin completely clean and more than three quarters of their skin almost completely clean, demonstrating a constant result over time.